Field of Glory Renaissance Take-Away in the Southern League in Clevedon 2013
Maratha vs Samurai
This was the "take-away" round of the 4-part Southern League, with all of the obscure and unusual armies from the Far Eastern books for FoGR - Indians, Chinese, Samurai and Aztecs. The expectation was for lots of elephants, lots of cavalry and lots of bowmen… so in a highly scientific process I had started at the back of the Indian and Chinese book looking for an army that I had most of the figures for, and which seemed at least half decent.. and I had stopped after the first one I had come across, the Maratha.
The lists for the Maratha and Samurai from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at the Southern League in Clevedon can be seen here in the Field of Glory Renaissance Wiki.
Maratha is basically Indians with Muskets instead of elephants, and the army has lots and lots of spearmen - a troop type I hadn't really used before in FoGR. It also mean of course my ever faithful Essex Miniatures "Generic Arab bloke with stick and shield" who had languished in the drawers since the end of DBM might get an outing - fantastic! I only had to paint up a dozen or so bases of arab-looking shot to replace those I'd sold maybe 6 years ago when I'd totally given up on there ever being a decent set of renaissance rules ever again and I'd be away…
So, without having really considered my opposition or done any analysis beyond a cursory "I guess spearmen will be good against elephants" allied with "no other army gets actual musketeers in this period so having 24 will surely prove decisive" I set off for Clevedon and the Lair of The Don.
Game 1 saw me matched up against a Samurai army. Lots of spearmen, so broadly the same as my army then..
...however the Samurai spearmen were armoured, So they were better. And they were mostly Superior. Which was also better. Oh dear… hopefully a lot of terrain would be on the pre-set tables to give my many medium foot somewhere to hide. Oh dear….
The table was suitable for billiards - apart from the lack of baize, side cushions, pockets, billiard balls, a smokey atmosphere, a vague smell of stale Double Diamond emanating from the carpet and the lack of a tuxedo on my opponent. But it was flat and mostly empty, save for a couple of smallish plantations over to one side. Which again, are not a normal feature of most billiard tables, but which might liven up the game somewhat if they were I suppose…
Based on the logic that the Samurai would come straight down the middle I deployed all my shot there, as they would not suffer from the Samurai's better armour, and so with luck, Generals and rear support from the otherwise useless bowmen they might actually be able to stand up to the Japanese warrior assault. On the left and right of this line massed my spearmen, with almost all of the Lancers on the left who were making great haste towards the thinly defended gap in the two plantations, possibly seeking a maginot-line type solution to how to crack the Samurai army wide open?
The Shot stood firm and did not move as on both flanks big blocks of spearmen lumbered forwards to try and pin back the wings of the Samurai army, drawing the centre inwards in an obvious Cannae-type stratagem
The right flank advanced, using one of the few other pieces of terrain - an enclosed paddy field - to anchor their flank as the Samurai lined up mounted Samurai and foot Ashigaru to take on the be-turbaned Indians.
Whats actually happening now?
The Samurai have piled their best troops straight down the middle, and the Maratha are not advancing towards them at all - a line of musketeers, impervious to the negative effect of armour, wait.
The Indians meanwhile have pushed their slow-moving spearmen out into both flank zones, creating solid anchors on both flanks which the samurai in the middle will surely have to advance past - the Indian foot are too tough for the Japanese flank troops to sweep away. This should create flanks for the Indian lancers to exploit later in the game...
First blood to the rather Ottoman-Turkish looking Indian musket skirmishers, as they shot down a Samurai on the end of the line. Maybe if the game ended here the Maratha could claim a moral and quite literal victory?
But whilst this was happening, the Indian cavalry on the far left of the deployment had made a dramatic lurch towards the middle - their initial advance had been but a feint to draw in the samurai and Ashigaru bowmen and horse into the plantation!
On the right the Indians were also forming a solid looking line, with two big blocks of spearmen fanning out to tempt in the Samurai and Ashigaru - but with a unit of lancers making it difficult for the Japanese infantry to charge home without being intercepted by the Indian cavalry.
Spearmen are far more effective when taking a lancer charge at the halt. But if they charge enemy lancers they can be ripped apart … especially if they are warriors or Medium Foote like these Ashigaru and Samurai
But elsewhere the irritating pseudo-turkish skirmishers had gotten too cocky and too close to the Japanese infantry - and had been caught in the rear when evading from one of their charges! Despite surviving the impact phase through some remarkable dice, the skirmishers were soon down to fragged in the melee and looking very broken
Whats actually happening now?
The Indian plan appears to be working, as the samurai are being drawn into an unsupported advance down the middle, giving up their wings on both sides.
A stalemate is emerging on both flanks, which suits the Maratha far more than it does the Japanese.
The skirmishers broke and ran, fleeing through their own lines whilst being pursued vigorously by the rampant and uncontrollable Samurai… but whilst they may have been rampant and uncontrollable, they weren't quite as fast as they would have liked, and the JAP-phase pursuit left them just short of the Indian gunnes and infantry. But with it being the Maratha turn next, the Indian lancers were perfectly poised for a devastating flank charge…
The Samurai in battle
The charge ripped into the flank of the Samurai, who shrugged it off and turned to fight the sub-continental horsemen…
As the over-eager Samurai hung on grimly, more Indian horsemen moved up to begin the process of unravelling the samurai line from the right hand end…
On the Maratha left both sides were still fending cautiously. The Samurai were hoping that the shooting of their horse archers would damage the Indian cavalry and force them to give up, but the shooting was proving ineffectual and neither side wanted to blink first…
Both sides decided to man up and prepare to tough it out - the Indian lancers perhaps gaining confidence from their impressive armour, which in game terms they technically didn't actually have… but with not enough unarmoured lancers I was fielding armoured ones to represent the Superior Unarmoured lancers and Unarmoured ones to represent the Average Unarmoured Lancers
The Samurai who had been hit in the flank by the lancers were then charged in their flank by the Indian spearmen, advancing through their own guns to get a piece of the Japanese. The samurai broke and fled, streaming towards their own men who had been unable to get out of the way of the looming catastrophe.
Whats actually happening now?
The pace of the game is accellerationg rapidly, as the Maratha lancers are stripping away the flanks of the main Samurai advance down the middle.. but more slowly than they would like
This hesitancy allows the Samurai to continue to press their attack on the vulnerable Indian infantry, and try and force the game in the centre. At the same time the stalemate on the Maratha right has broken, and now Armoured Japanese spearmen are fighting unarmoured Maratha spearmen. The game is hard to call - the Indian lancers are in a theoretically brilliant position, but if they continue to make heavy going of beating outflanked Samurai they may only kill 2 enemy units whilst the rest of the Samurai battle plan continues unmolested.
The 2 units of lancers (one had joined the first in the melee) then crashed into the flank of the Samurai line for the second time that day - and this time the results were more decisive as the Samurai dropped to Fragged
On the right battle had also been joined as two units of Ashigaru were now fighting the Indian spearmen. Weight of numbers was with the Indians, the Ashigaru were better due to their armour, but should they lose a round of melee the closer formation of the Indians would then start to crush the looser wall of Ashigaru spearmen. The pedestrian battle was finely poised as the two cavalry units stared each other out…
Loose formation troops like Medium Foot or Warriors suffer a -1 morale penalty when losing combat to close formation troops
The same pattern was being reproduced on the left, as a lone spear unit clashed with a lone Ashigaru formation, as in the background more Arab horse swing in towards the middle
The Indian horsemen were making heavy going of rolling up the flanks of DISR units of warriors, with one of them Fragmented and still involved in heavy fighting and pursuits.
This slower-than-anticipated domino effect had allowed the samurai to close in on the line of Indian musketeers - who were attempting to pour fire into the onrushing Samurai from long and then short range. The classic ox-bow formation was starting to develop as the Indians greater numbers allowd them to start to encircle the oncoming Japanese infantry
The slogging match continued meanwhile on the right of the line, with honours broadly even as one Ashigaru unit was down to 4 bases, but one Indian unit was DISR. As always, the Samurai unit facing the greatest odds was winning, and one that was outnumbered was doing well..
The Indian infantry dropped dangerously towards Fragged as the Samurai hacked away at the wall of spearpoints and got amongst the Indian infantry with their fearsome Katana's
The Duelling Samurai
The Samurai in the middle had proved incredibly resilient to musketry, losing only 2 bases on the way into 24 musketeers, and now they had the upper hand s two of the four Maratha units were already DISR. Would this end up as a heroic tale of Samurai derring-do, or stoic Indian ability to throw numbers at a problem, innovate and persevere?
On the left the increasingly worried Japanese had decided to try and force an advantage, and brought their Ashigaru bowmen out of the plantation to shoot at the Indian lancers - but the time spent in the jungle had warped their bows and soaked their strings, rendering their shooting ineffectual and allowing the Average Indian lancers the luxury of a charge at +2 at impact into a target they could probably beat!
Whats actually happening now?
The Samurai advance in the middle has finally reached something of a high water mark, and having failed to beat up the Indian infantry in the initial impacts the Samurai are now locked in a desparate struggle where the Indian weight of numbers is starting to count.
Possibly in response to this the Samurai have become more agrressive elswhere on the fiield and this is now playing into the hands of the Maratha as they can afford to trade units one-for-one all day long. The tide is starting to turn for the Maratha as the samurai simply run out of bodies to thrown into the front lines all across the table
The left flank, in theory a "hold" for the Indians, suddenly became a place of victory as the Japanese 2nd line troops crumbled in the face of a concerted onslaught, even unsettling the reserve bowmen and making them decide not to come out of the plantation anytime soon…!
The right flank was no looking so good however, as the Indian spearmen had unsurprisingly folded, allowing Ashigaru to also sweep away some supporting bowmen and pursue unmolested into the end of the Indian line of musketeers. The samurai were now where they wanted to be - in close quarters combat with unarmoured men with no weapons other than a musket functioning as a makeshift club…
But the Indian line was holding, and with Indian cavalry roaming around the in back field the samurai were actually the happier force when time was eventually called, bringing the battle to a premature end maybe a turn or two before a total Indian victory could be chalked up…
The Result is a pretty convincing 14-6 win for the Maratha
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Maratha Commander
Text analysis 1
Delighted is not the word I would use for such a munificent victory established through a glorious feat of arms. THe gods themselves must have smiled on us todat to allow the martial might of Maratha to upend these Japanese and claim the spoils of war for India!
The fools who protested that my dynasty were missing out by declining to use elephants in war have now surely been proven wrong, and the great strength of this country has been revealed for what we have always knows - the fact their are simply more of us than there are of our enemies is in itself a form of strategic military brilliance unsurpassed elsewhere in this hemisphere
Despite the fact that I am part of a ruling clade who established hegemony over this vast and bounteous land in a relatively short period of time with apparently rather fewer military resources than one might consider reasonable does not in any way undermine my analysis that the proficiency and sheer volume of miiltary personnel is in itself sufficient to defend this land from the highly trained and well equipped foreigners who covet it for themselves. Bring on more enemies, for I shall smite them myself and then have my men smite them a million times more!
Hannibalipuripathi's Post Match Analysis
After a performance such as this my sone, I only have one thing to tell you to do from this point on - Chullu bhar muth mein doob mar!
Khotey ki aulda! How could you manage to exercise such a simple plan so poorly? The horse were left far too far out, and the Samurai almost managed to get into your soft underbelly of the musketeers - the Nimbu sharbat maa ke bable of your army if ever there was one. And if you had instead telegraphed the flanking attack and put the horse in reach of where they needed to be, can you imagine the Samurai changing their plans? No!
If you can claim to be a general, you must be a Lundoos general, with the basest perspective that such a birth would impel upon you. The enemy had no maneuver, no dynamism, and still you had a plan of waiting for them to attack in a long line. Even a jhaant ke pissu would have seen through such a paltry enemy faster than you my foolish friend
Bhen ke takke and begone with you, and let's hope for an easier game up next or you may find that it is a case of teri ma ki chut mai sabka lund whilst you scrabvble for the points you should have had this time too
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